For a fun and newsworthy example of how children can be harmed by selfish parents who divorce or don't bother getting married, read up on the story of the 9-year-old girl at the center of the "under God" pledge case that's coming up before the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

The case was brought by Michael Newdow (search), an atheist who does not want his 9-year-old daughter exposed to the phrase "under God," which Congress inserted in 1954 in a Cold War expression of abhorrence of godless communism. [editorialize much? -- MW]

The girl's mother, Sandra Banning (search), is a born-again Christian locked in a bitter custody dispute with Newdow, whom she never married. Backed by former Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr, she has told the justices that her daughter has no objection to reciting "under God" in school each day. ...

The acrimony between Banning and Newdow is intense. They could not even agree whether the fourth-grader in the Elk Grove school district near Sacramento could attend the Supreme Court arguments. ...

Banning, who regularly takes her daughter to the Calvary Chapel of Laguna Creek, said she became romantically involved with Newdow after she divorced another man — a brief period when she "lost sight" of her faith.

"At that time in my life, I wasn't participating with my faith or going to church. As a result, in our dating relationship, I did get pregnant," said Banning, who does clerical work at home.

Good work. You know, it's pretty easy to avoid pregnancy these days.

Newdow himself sounds like the type of guy that needs to get his butt kicked on general principles.

Newdow said he studied to became a doctor at the University of California at Los Angeles, to help people, then got a law degree at the University of Michigan so he could sue doctors. He made a fortune in medicine. And now his legal battles consume most of his time.

Newdow also challenged — unsuccessfully — the religious invocation at the inauguration of President Bush. He is also challenging a California law requiring him to pay Banning's legal fees in their custody battle — more than $300,000 in all.

But anyway, the reason he apparently lost shared custody of his daughter is ridiculous.
As for his daughter, Newdow said he was partially stripped of custody rights because when the girl was 5, he let her enter a bathroom by herself at an airport.

"I lost custody because I let my daughter go pee!" he exclaimed. "When she came out, I told her she needed to tell her mom, because she would be proud."

The girl's mother said the child was put in danger.

And if he'd taken her into the restroom himself he'd be sued for child abuse or something.

Poor girl. Both of her parents sound pretty idiotic, and now she's being used for publicity purposes in one of the highest-profile Supreme Court cases of our time. Do you think all these shenanigans may end up being more harmful to her than saying the Pledge of Allegiance?

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» One Nation Under &@* from damnum absque injuria

Michael Newdow is scheduled to argue on Wednesday that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. I hope that he loses this turkey on the merits, thereby sparing us a repeat of this spectacle a few years from now. However, there... Read More

» One Nation Under &@* from damnum absque injuria

Michael Newdow is scheduled to argue on Wednesday that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. I hope that he loses this turkey on the merits, thereby sparing us a repeat of this spectacle a few years from now. However, there... Read More

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